Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge: 45 holes of fun at enjoyable Orlando golf complex

By Ed Schmidt, Contributor

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -- Set on a parcel of undulating former ranch and citrus land five miles north of Walt Disney World, Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge is a world-class golf facility offering play, practice, instruction, lodging and dining possibilities.

9 Holes | Public | Par: 29 | 1563 yards
18 Holes | Public | Par: 72 | 7493 yards
Orange County National - Crooked Cat - 11th
The 911-acre Orange County National complex has 36 holes of championship golf.
Orange County National - Crooked Cat - 11thOrange County National - Crooked Cat - 13thOrange County National - Crooked Cat - no. 13Orange County National - Tooth golf courseOrange County National - Panther Lake - 17thOrange County National - Panther Lake - 9th

The sweeping, 911-acre complex has 36 holes of championship golf, a nine-hole practice and learning course, 33,000-square-foot clubhouse, 7,000-square-foot pro shop, 42-acre practice range, 22,000-square-foot putting green, 50-room lodge and a golf academy.

Orange County National's Panther Lake Course

Designed in collaboration by Phil Ritson, Isao Aoki and Dave Harman, Panther Lake incorporates rolling hills and 60-foot elevation changes as it winds through open meadows, natural oak hammocks, pine forests, scenic wetlands and freshwater lakes.

"Panther Lake is our premier course," said Kevin Naylor, assistant manager at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge. "It combines beauty, great scenery and challenging shots on every hole. There is water on 14 of the 18 holes, and the greens average 45,000 square feet with lots of undulations."

There are no homes on the 7,350-yard, par-72 layout, and you'll see a variety of native species of birds and wildlife during your round. For higher handicappers, it plays 6,394 yards from the green tees and 6,011 yards from the white tees.

Orange County National's Crooked Cat Course

More wide open than Panther Lake, OCN's Crooked Cat Course has a "links" flavor with few trees; wide, terraced fairways; large, sloping greens; isolated grass bunkers; and native redtop heather grass in the rough.

"It's more forgiving than Panther Lake and a good choice for mid-handicappers who want wider landing areas so they can bang it off the tee," Naylor said.

The ever-changing wind can provide problems on this 7,493-yard, par-72 course, which plays 6,432-yards from the green tees and 6,020 yards from the tan tees.

While Crooked Cat is generally gentler than Panther Lake, the back nine is a stern test. It is the most difficult on the property and a favorite of tour players and low handicappers, according to Naylor.

Orange County National's The Tooth Course

A short course with two tee settings (1,563 yards from blue tees and 1,386 yards from the white tees), The Tooth is ideal for youngsters, super seniors and novices, as well as skilled golfers who want to work on their iron game.

Well maintained, the layout has gentle elevation changes, strategically placed bunkers and a lake. There are two par-4 holes and seven par-3 holes. The longest is the 293-yard finishing hole.

Orange County National: Amenities

To warm up before a round or engage in an intense practice session, the expansive circular range, putting greens and short-game area comprise one of the best facilities of its kind anywhere. Enhancing the experience are the nine target greens and the numerous hitting stations with unblemished natural turf.

The 200-seat Orange 83 Pub and Grill is open for breakfast and lunch every day with daily specials. There are right HD televisions and seating on an outside patio. Some of the more popular menu items are the fish or chicken tacos, prime rib sandwich, Stevie's Reuben and London Bridge Club Sandwich.

For those who really want to immerse in the golf-all-the-time culture of Orange County National, the 50-room lodge, situated a few steps from the clubhouse overlooking the Crooked Cat golf course, is a convenient and comfortable option. Among the complimentary amenities are Wi-Fi Internet access, use of the laundry room, club storage and greens fees on the Tooth.

After a round, on chilly winter and autumn evenings, there's a nightly fire pit in the lodge courtyard where golfers gather to trade stories and settle bets.

Orange County National: The verdict

An Orlando area mainstay since its opening in 1998, Orange County National has undergone a major enhancement program since 2012. New Champion Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass greens, improved signage and landscaping and refurbishment of the lodge and clubhouse highlight the recent changes.

What makes Orange County National unique is its variety of courses and facilities, which are designed to attract golfers of every age and skill level, from professional tour players to youngsters being introduced to the game for the first time.

Ed SchmidtEd Schmidt, Contributor

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

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